Important safety tip folks: Wherever you go, there you are. And hey, while you’re there, why not stop and smell the roses, and, better yet, taste the beer? I always do. No matter where I go, I’m on the lookout for beer. Why just the other day, I was at my local Kroger, and went by the beer aisle as I always do. There, sitting atop the cases of various Samuel Adams beer were four six-packs of something new: Anytime IPA by The Just Beer Project.
Now, placed where it was, I assumed this was somehow affiliated with the Boston Beer Company, and I was right. This beer is, according to the label: “Brewed and Bottled by The Just Beer Project, Cincinnati, OH and Breinigsville, PA in collaboration with the Boston Beer Company. “
The headquarters of The Just Beer Project, though, is located in Burlington, Vermont, and that had me thinking Magic Hat. Anyway, I was intrigued enough to pick up a six-pack and bring it home. Doing a little research, I found out I was right about Magic Hat, too. The Just Beer Project website features an intro from Alan Newman of Magic Hat fame.
Friends, let me say first that I like Alan, I met him at a Magic Hat dinner back in the nineties when I wrote for Yankee Brew News. I told him I was a big fan of his work, and he boomed "I'm a big fan of yours!" in reply. Alan is a character, and will certainly leave an impression on you if you ever meet him.
In his letter on the Just Beer Project website, Alan states the following in these excerpts:
When I started Magic Hat in 1993, there was little variety in the beer world. It was normal for there to be 6 to 8 draft choices; 2 lite corn lagers, an (oxidized) import or two, and if you were lucky, a Samuel Adams Lager or Sierra Pale Ale.
Times have changed. Five years ago I walked into a bar in Portland, Oregon wanting to catch up with an old friend over a few beers. This was something I’d done hundreds of times before. I looked out at the draft tower, scratched my head and said to myself, “WTF,” then ordered one of the myriad of beers I knew nothing about. It was a 70 IBU beer with an ABV of 9%. After I finished, I asked the owner/bartender what he had that was not so BIG. They were all in the same camp. After struggling through my second beer, I decided to switch to water.
Two take aways here. The first is that Anytime IPA seems to be another “session IPA”, of the sort that seem to be increasingly popular these days. I have my doubts about session IPAs, and in all reality this beer is not an IPA. Let’s be honest, call it a hoppy pale ale, and be done with it.
Second lesson learned: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. What has the American craft beer revolution been but a reaction to the sorry state of domestic brewing from Prohibition to the late 1970s? Today, we’ve come full circle of a sort, and craft brewers seem to be racing to bring out the next 150 IBU 14% ABV sledgehammer beer. This has been my observation, and this is what Alan is alluding to. While I don’t quite agree that I’d have a problem sitting in a bar confronted with an array of beers that I’d never tried before, I can see his point about sometimes just wanting an “Anytime” quaffing brew. Like Anytime IPA by The Just Beer Project.
Anytime IPA by The Just Beer Project is moderate in alcohol at just 4.6% by volume (there will be more Just Beer Project brews, all to be 5% or under). It has 45 IBUs. My bottle’s label is notched to be “best before” June of 2014. In addition to being a reaction against monster brews, Anytime IPA by The Just Beer project also seems to be a reaction against escalating beer prices: it was very reasonable at $6.99 a six-pack.
Ingredients from the website:
Malt: 2-Row Malted Barley, Bohemian Floor Malted Barley & Honey Malt
Hops: Chinook, Ahtanum, Citra & Cascade
Dryhop: Citra, Simcoe & Cascade
So how’s the beer? Let’s find out.
Anytime IPA by The Just Beer Project pours to a pale golden color with a thick rocky head formation and a subtle nose of new mown hay and lemons. Taking a sip, the beer is a bit thinner in body than you would expect for an IPA, although not a 4.6% IPA I suppose. There is just a touch of caramel, and then some almost pilsner like malt and a rather herbal, slightly grassy hop finish. This reminds me more of a pilsner or pale ale than an IPA, but has a very nice long lingering dry bitterness. It is a nice sessionable beer.
In all honesty, this is not an IPA. There is really only the faintest hint of caramel, and I think the beer is out of balance like most of the session IPAs we see hitting the market. I do like the grassy, new mown hay hoppiness and notes of bitter zesty lemon. It finishes refreshingly bitter, too. Stylistically, it fails, but hedonistically, I do like it.
So would I buy it again? I would, and heck, you can’t argue with the price. It’s oh so refreshing, and I can see quaffing Anytime IPA during the coming summer months. But it’s really a pale ale, and not an IPA. So why not call it Anytime Pale Ale? Kudos to Alan for a reaction to the sledgehammer beers, but by calling this an IPA, my friend, you’re still tied down to today’s craft beer conventions.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.